Common Dandelion

©Richard Burkmarr

Green-veined White on Common Dandelion

Green-veined White on Dandelion ©Katrina Martin/2020VISION

Common Dandelion

©Katrina Martin/2020VISION

Common dandelion

Scientific name: Taraxacum officinale
The Common dandelion is a most familiar flower: counting down the 'clock', while blowing the fluffy seeds from its head, is a favourite childhood game. It is often thought of as a 'weed' of grassy places.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 35cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The seed 'clocks' of the Common dandelion can carpet a grassland in fluffy, white pillows straight after the bright yellow, gaudy flowers have coloured it gold. Common Dandelions grow in all kinds of grasslands from lawns to roadside verges, pastures to traditional meadows, and can be a weed.

How to identify

The Common dandelion is actually a variety of forms or 'microspecies' and there are also a number of other dandelion species, so identification can be tricky. Nevertheless, look for the familiar yellow flower heads displaying closely packed florets (tiny flowers). The leaves of the Common Dandelion are lobed and spoon-shaped, and the stem exudes a milky white sap if it is broken. When it fruits, the seeds appear with their downy, white parachutes, and form a globular, packed seed head.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

The Common dandelion is the subject of many myths and games, one of which suggests that if you pick it, or even just touch it, you will wet the bed - an idea that forms many of the local common names, including 'Wet-the-bed' and 'Tiddle-beds'.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of buttercups in your lawn or nettles near your compost heap, to see who comes to visit? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.